17. huhti, 2018

A weekend in Washington D.C.

Spring is late this year and the wind is still chilly around the parks of Washington D.C. I pull my hood on tighter and warm my hands in the pockets of my hoodie. The city’s homeless warm up by the air-vents of the metro system, wrapped in blankets. Apparently the American welfare does not apply to all. Nonetheless, we’re well into April now, and the light pink cherry blossoms around the Washington Monument bring hope of a gradually warming weather.

The grey and cloudy weather makes today the perfect day for a tour around the city’s museums. The exhibitions on show in the capital’s museums are fantastic, and to top it all off, they’re free! The Natural History Museum is huge! We take photos of menacing totems, hanging whales, and mummies enclosed in glass cabinets. The Holocaust Memorial Museum is a moving place. Hundreds of candles burn there, in memory of those who lost their lives in the concentration camps of WW2. There are tons of film and documentary material of the concentration camps, but surprisingly, also of the holocaust happening in Syria today.

Another fascinating place to visit is the U.S Bureau of Engraving and Printing, an active factory producing paper currency. The security checks upon entrance are understandably rigorous and no photography or filming is allowed inside. The ink used inside the factory is unique, patented and secret for fraud prevention purposes and is not available anywhere else. On our 40minute tour we get to observe different size bills get through various stages of the printing process, before being cut and wrapped at the end, ready for distribution.

The White House and the surrounding area are buzzing with tourists. Students from a language school are taking group selfies, all wearing matching red caps. I’m dumbfounded to spot the slogan “Make America Great Again” printed on the caps of these teens, I would have thought that politics didn’t feature on the curriculums of international language courses! Right next to us there’s a stall selling presidential T-shirts, with the choice of either Obama or Trump printed on them. There’s a group of South Korean immigrants carrying a huge banner declaring war and immediate bomb strike on North Korea. Seeing that sends shivers down my spine.

After our tour of the capital we get to enjoy the best of what the metropolitan Virginia has to offer; the company and hospitality of Pekka’s sister and her family. Us travelers get truly spoiled with delicious Mexican food as well as Finnish chocolate and rye bread. We cherish the opportunity to get some of our routine stuff sorted, such as getting the piles of accumulated washing done, getting our car serviced and restocking our reading library with Finnish titles off of our hosts shelves. Some of the biggest treats of our stay are the opportunity to use a sauna again, a private cello concert and just seeing the kids goofing around happily. Feeling incredibly grateful of the welcome and hospitality we’ve enjoyed, we set off again and continue traveling on towards home and summer.